Thursday, January 27, 2011

Full Steam, Ahead!

When you’re the caretaker, you take care of someone else; nobody takes care of you. It’s hard to think about yourself when you are looking at someone who is suffering.  Everything about you seems insignificant.

When Dr. Death started talking about Rick going home, I felt great relief on one hand, scared to death on the other.  A parade of specialists had made their way through his room.  The orthopedic surgeon wanted to cut out the lesions and put Rick in a rehabilitation center for weeks. This didn’t seem like a good idea, sort of like going from bad to worse.

Dr. Johnson, the doctor of radiology oncology felt that radiation would be less invasive.  It would heal the bone eventually.  Dr. Johnson was a great cheerleader; we needed a cheerleader, someone who could make us believe there was a chance. Dr. Johnson had that wonderful bedside manner.  He was just what the doctor ordered.

So…Dr. Death said that Rick could go home and return to the hospital daily for radiation.  Here is the catch; Rick couldn’t walk and was now in a wheelchair.  Okay, a miracle will occur every day and he will appear here? I don’t think so.

The oncology nurse coordinator paid me a visit before Rick went home.  She gave us a gazillion appointments, with Dr. Death, with the hospital for radiation, with the center for his next chemo infusion in three weeks.  Next, she explained how fragile Rick’s body was.  Rick’s bones were brittle and a fall could cause him to have a break that could require surgery.  His immune system was already weak; surgery would not be a good next step. Basically, she made it sound like a dire situation.

I am a “Mulhern”.  Mulhern is my maiden name.  I am a fighter.  I survived growing up in a family of eight children.  I have six tough brothers and a feisty older sister. We are all hot-heads and do NOT take things lying down!  Something inside my head exploded with the frustration and the pressure of the moment.  “There is no way that I am taking him home in a car after you just explained that.  I will not move him. You had better figure out a way to get him home and get him back.  If he falls, I will hold you personally responsible. You had better make arrangements for him because he is not moving.”

Mrs. Roszel, your insurance will not pay for his transportation back and forth.”  “Oh, they’ll pay!  I will sue every single one of you if something happens to him. I come from a family of lawyers who will have nothing better to do than sue the pants off of all of you if something happens to my husband. Do not tell me that a fall could potentially kill him and expect me to take him home.  You had better make something happen.”

Well, something did happen.  She arranged for an ambulance with life support to take him home and an ambulance to deliver him wherever he needed to be in the next few weeks.  Isn’t it just amazing what can happen WHEN YOU GO NUTS in a hospital?

They would also be delivering a hospital bed, bedside commode, a wheelchair and medical supplies to our home.  The problem was we had no room in our home. So, my dear neighbor, Teresa came over and started to take things over to her house.  Rick’s brother and wife came and took away more things and brought us a single bed to put in the den so I could sleep next to the hospital bed. Another friend from my school came to my house and loaded up her van with even more things. 

My parents would stay until we came home and then leave the next day.  Rick wanted me dead; he did not want to be taken home in an ambulance. He had been in the hospital for ten days.  Ten days that seemed like a lifetime to me.  I didn’t want to go home either.  We were suspended in the animation of the hospital, going home and changing our life would make it all too real.

I had a gnawing pain in my side for days.  I couldn’t eat and felt nauseous 24/7.  Onward, full steam ahead! This was not about me.  I was the caretaker and nobody takes care of the caretaker.

1 comment:

  1. Rick was lucky to have as his advocate. Wow, what a ranting you gave that hospital! Good for you! Were they crazy? Did they even listen to what they were saying to you? I wonder if most people just "followed orders" and prayed a lot. Insane! And why weren't the so called "care givers at the hospital" thinking about what was in the best interest of the patient. Oh, that's right the mighty buck!